January 2008

Interview With Peter Bogdanov – Part I

Peter Bogdanov - Vermico

Unlike some of my previous interviews, I decided to keep this one under wraps until I posted it.
This is certainly not an indication of a lack of excitement on my part. On the contrary, when Peter agreed to take part several weeks ago I almost had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. You see, Peter has (unwittingly) been one of my most important mentors – someone responsible for helping to vastly expand my vermicomposting knowledge and passion for the field in general, via his various information products (which I’ll talk more about in a minute).

Being the humble (and sometimes coy) guy that he is, I’m sure he would he would downplay the importance of his role in the industry over the years, but there is very little doubt that he has been one of the major players. Not in the usual sense, however. You see, Peter Bogdanov is not the owner of a worm farm or vermicomposting operation of any kind (not even sure if he has worm bins at home). He has positioned himself primarily as an information specialist and ‘connector’ within the industry, ever since bursting onto the worm scene back in 1996.

He is the owner of Vermico, a small worm business originally based in Grants Pass, Oregon (now in Arizona, if I’m not mistaken). If you visit the site you will quickly see that Vermico does indeed sell many of the products commonly associated with a typical worm composting biz, but it’s not (in my humble opinion) these goods that helped Peter make a name for himself in worm circles. It was his newsletter (Casting Call), his various books and manuals, and of course the major conferences he organized (and helped to organize). These are what had the greatest impact in terms of spreading the word about vermicomposting and vermiculture, and helping to unite and bring some legitimacy to an industry known for its secrecy and scams.

I personally own every issue of Casting Call, all (four) of his fascinating interview videos, along with a handful of his other manuals and books. The industry itself has changed a great deal in the short period of time since he released these products, but I can assure you that most of the information presented is timeless, and quite frankly a must have for anyone seriously considering the possibility of starting their own worm related business, or simply looking to expand their knowledge base.

Anyway…I don’t want to gush too much here, nor do I want to steal Peter’s thunder. Here now is the first half of my interview!


Could you share with us a little about your background, and how/when you became involved in the vermicomposting industry?


PB – Unlike the major players I’ve known who were either dedicated field workers (i.e., ran their own worm farms), brilliant scientists or talented educators, my “credentials” were at the outset, frankly, rather shabby. I have to admit, shamelessly, I came onto the worm scene in the mid 90’s looking for a way to make a buck. Prior to the formation of VermiCo, (in what seems like a former life) I earned a master’s degree in Medieval and Early Modern European history, taught at the high school and college level, but devolved into a house painter in Southern California, before moving to Oregon to buy and turn residential “fixer uppers.” At one time I was the eviction king of Grants Pass! Then one day I heard from a real estate agent that an international banker was considering buying one of my properties to turn into a worm farm. That revelation sent me on a hunt to try to discover what a wealthy man might do with earthworms. Although I lived in Oregon, Southern California 800 miles to the south was vermiculture’s latest hot spot. So I jumped in my jitney, headed south and talked to sole proprietor worm farmers, vermicomposting and waste management gurus, and the infamous huckster Hy Hunter. In a relatively short time I met the movers and shakers of our ever-fledgling, never burgeoning industry. Since all the vermi heavyweights might easily fit into a normal-sized living room (and they all seemed to know each other as if they’d spent considerable time together in that living room) I was able to, in short order, network among the stars of the Worm World. I found them to be the most gracious, authentic and deeply committed people I’d ever met. My life has been tremendously enriched through my association with those about whom you will read in my newsletters and learn from in our other media. I owe the very existence and any success of our tiny cottage business to the couple dozen or so earthworm colleagues who allowed me the privilege of working with them.


After 10 years and 60 fantastic issues, the last ‘Casting Call’ was published in April of 2006. What led you to decide to shut down the newsletter?


PB – To paraphrase Twain, “The reports of my newsletter’s death are greatly exaggerated.” However, the reports are not entirely without substance. Let’s say the patient is languishing on life support. Admittedly there’s been a long hiatus since the last issue, but we’ve not thrown in the proverbial towel. Why the lengthy interlude? Dozens of reasons, among which is the fact that so many of our Super Stars fell into a black hole. While all of Hank Williams, Junior’s rowdy friends have settled down, mine have simply disappeared. If you believe in resurrection as I do, it’s not entirely without hope that the patient may be resuscitated someday. But so also would some of our industry’s MIAs.


You are definitely someone who has had a unique vantage point from which to observe the vermicomposting industry during the last 12 (or so) years. I’m sure you’ll agree that a lot has changed during that time. Can you share with us what you feel some of the highlights and low moments have been?


PB – The highlights are really too numerous to itemize. By listing some, I’d be chagrined to omit others. But because I don’t want to evade the question I’ll take a swipe at a brief though inadequate answer. Mary Appelhof’s Vermillennium of September 2000 was, without question, an international watershed event of historic consequence. Additionally, the corpus of Dr. Clive Edwards’ lifelong work and scientific leadership stands as the rock-solid foundation of all that we know and believe. Without Clive and Mary’s contributions, the state of US and international vermiculture might be described most accurately as Paleolithic. A personal peak occurred in March 2001 on a Sunday in Portland, OR when nearly 250 people showed up for a one-day conference we sponsored featuring 14 speakers, each of whom had only 20 minutes for his or her gig. On that day, we had attendees show up from as far away as Argentina, Switzerland and Israel who had no prior contact with us. These folks simply read about our conference on our website, hopped on a plane, and showed up without pre-registering or inquiring if seats were available! I was blown away! More than anything else, that incident showed me the power of the internet to move people to action. There is no question in my mind that VermiCo would not exist without the internet. We became a new style “worm business,” solely through a technology that has only been around a couple decades.

Negatively, our industry’s credibility has been repeatedly and savagely assaulted over the years through malicious attempts at outright fraud. Whereas we once feared the planarian “flatworm” as a dreaded predator of E. fetida which, at one time, was thought to pose a major threat to our industry, far greater damage has been inflicted on thousands of honest (yet tragically gullible) people and upon the future of vermiculture through the unremitting deception of crafty swindlers. I believe the blame for the mass exodus of the “best and brightest” from our industry may be laid squarely at the feet of those who’ve peddled millions of dollars of worthless worm buy-back contracts to thousands of naïve “investors” whose own greed led to their financial ruin. Incalculable carnage has been the result. To put a human face on this, I recall one of my most memorable conversations, held with a commercial truck driver who called me from his cell phone while he was on a road trip. He had a gut-level feeling of gnawing insecurity about parting with $50,000 to buy a worm buy-back contract, but he hated driving truck and his lower backache was just killing him. I urged him to arm himself with information before he gave anyone any money at all. I pleaded with him not to give me or anyone else any money—“Just go out there and see what you can find—but don’t buy that contract!” In spite of all I tried to do to dissuade him, I couldn’t get him to hang on to his wallet. His last words to me were, “Well, I guess I’ll just max out my credit card and buy a contract from that salesman and send you some money for your book.” Afterwards I think I just put down the phone and wept.


Stay tuned for the second half of our interview with Peter Bogdanov!

[tags]peter bogdanov, vermico, worm composting, worm business, vermicomposting, vermiculture, worm farming, vermillenium, mary appelhoff, clive edwards[/tags]

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Worm Farming Business

Last week, Susan wrote in to inquire about starting her own worm business. I knew I had to answer this one on the blog since this is a topic a lot of people want to learn about, and something I haven’t really talked about all that much.

As a few of my readers know, I was actually hired to co-author a worm farming manual last year (along with a newsletter – something I’ll be doing again this year). I’ve read a LOT about the worm farming industry over the years, but the project provided me with the opportunity to really dive in and learn a lot more about the ‘business of worm farming’. I’ll certainly be writing more about ALL of that before too long, but for now let’s get to Susan’s question:

Hello! I have had a small worm bin in my kitchen for a few months and i have really enjoyed watching my produce scraps turn into fertile soil. I am thinking about turning vermicomposting into a side business, selling the worms and castings. Do you know if this is profitable? I can tell that the worms have no problem doubling in size, so I don’t worry about that, but I am wondering if it can be a viable source of income. Any suggestions you have would be great

Hi Susan,
Thanks for the question! As mentioned above, this is definitely something a lot of people want to learn about. This isn’t too surprising really – once you witness the beauty (and power) of a thriving worm bin, it is only natural to start thinking about expansion.

I’m certainly not going to get into all the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of starting your own worm farming business, but let’s see if I can at least provide you with reasonable overview, including some of the key pieces of advice I would give anyone thinking of heading that route.

For starters, I loved the fact that you used the adjective “side” in front of “business”. One of the things I always highly recommend for hobby vermicomposters thinking about starting a worm business is to take their time, and ease themselves into it. There are so many advantages to taking this route. Here are just some of them:

  • Your start-up costs will be next to nothing (so you won’t put your own finances on the line). You can start at home and literally take things one worm bin at a time
  • It will allow you time to research the industry and chart out a gameplan
  • By the time you’re ready for large-scale production you will have a lot more experience with worms
  • You’ll likely have a lot more fun (and far less stress) building it from the ground up

Again, these are just some of the advantages of the slow and steady approach.

Don’t get me wrong – there are certainly advantages to starting big and hitting the ground running, but you MUST put in the time and effort to fully research the industry, and put together a proper business plan before investing large sums of money in worms/equipment etc. One of the mistakes a lot of people seem to make is assuming that if they have lots and lots of worms and/or castings the world will suddenly beat a path to their doors to buy them. This is not the case at all.

Some of you may wonder about ‘turn-key’ and ‘contract’ opportunities. In all honesty, I don’t recommend taking that approach in most cases. This is something I’ll likely talk about in another post at some point since it definitely should be covered in more detail than I can provide here.

In response to your question about the profit-potential of a worm business…I hate to say it, but…it depends!
😆

I realize that sounds like a lazy answer, but let me explain…

It really depends on the amount of work YOU are willing to put into it, and the expectations you have. Starting out the way I suggested above, it certainly won’t be hard to reach profitability (especially if you don’t consider your own time as a cost), assuming you can find a market for your worms etc. That is really the key – sales and marketing. Breeding worms and producing castings is really the easy part. It is developing a demand for your products that can be the real challenge, and something a lot of would-be worm farmers seem to want to sweep under the carpet.

Bottomline, yes a worm business can be a profitable venture, but it still needs to be treated like a real business, and will require a lot of hard work and dedication in order to truly succeed. Thankfully, with the World Wide Web at our fingertips now, the possibilities for inexpensive promotion of your business are vast (yet another topic I want to talk more about)!

Anyway Susan, I hope that helps a little. Thanks again for the question. As mentioned, I will definitely be revisiting this topic again before too long!

Regards,

B.

[tags]worm farming, worm farming business, worm business, selling worms, worm castings, worm composting, vermicomposting[/tags]

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Nightcrawler Question

This question comes from Mario. Like many other people, Mario is curious about various worms he has found in the ‘wild’. Here is what he had to say:

HI there!
I was recently searching for worms after a couple of rain days at church. There´s a lot of just dirt with a little of grass and some roses. To my surprise I found at least 60 worms, there very different from the red wigglers I recently purchased, my question is: are the worm I found on the moistured dirt, are they nightcrawlers? I realy dont have any idea what kind of worms they are, some of them are a little white with lots of veins on there body, some are thick and very
brownish. Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you very much, by the way your web site is one of the best I have found, probably top 10 on the web.

Wow – ‘top 10 on the web’?? I’ll assume you are talking about vermicomposting sites. Regardless, that is quite a compliment, Mario! Thanks very much.
🙂

You’ve asked a great question! I know a lot of people get somewhat confused when it comes to various species of earthworms. The wide array of common names floating around certainly don’t help the situation at all! You mentioned “nightcrawlers”. There are three different species of worm (that I know of) that are known as nightcrawlers. One of course is the European Nightcrawler (Eisenia hortensis) – a worm I’ve been talking about a lot, ever since starting my own euro worm bin. Then there is the ‘Canadian Nightcrawler’ (Lumbricus terrestris), also known as the ‘Dew Worm’. Finally, there is also an ‘African Nightcrawler’ (Eudrilus eugeniae).

Lets, chat very briefly about each.


The European Nightcrawler (Eisenia hortensis), also known as the ‘Belgian Nightcrawler’, is a larger cousin of the Red Wiggler (Eisenia fetida). Like E. fetida, you won’t generally find this worm in ‘regular’ soil habitats, unless there is an accumulation of rich organic matter. The prime habitat for a worm like this is a compost heap or manure pile.


Canadian Nightcrawler | Dew Worm

The Canadian Nightcrawler (Lumbricus terrestris) is a very large worm (unfortunately this picture doesn’t provide any perspective) that is very popular for fishing. Many people assume they can start up a worm bin with this species, but alas they are not well suited for this habitat at all! Dew Worms are deep soil burrowers, creating extensive tunnels down through numerous soil layers. During heavy rains, or on moist nights they often move to the surface to feed on organic materials (leaves, dead grass etc). They require cooler temperatures and far less crowded conditions than composting worms – as such, they won’t thrive within the confines of a household worm bin.


African Nightcrawler

Like the European Nightcrawler, the African Nightcrawler (Eudrilus eugeniae) is another species of composting worm. It is native to certain tropical regions of the world, which makes it less tolerant of cool conditions (according to the scientific literature, this species will die if temperatures fall below 10C/50F), but it is apparently a very effective composting worm and breeds very rapidly under ideal conditions.


Back to your question, Mario…

It’s tough to say for sure what kind worms you found, other than to say that they are almost certainly ‘soil worms’ – i.e. species not well suited for worm composting. I’m not sure where you are located, but there is certainly a chance that there were Canadian Nightcrawlers among the worms you found, especially given your “thick and brownish” description for some of them.

Anyway, thanks again for the great question – hopefully my response has helped!

B.

[tags]nightcrawlers, european nightcrawlers, red worms, red wigglers, canadian nightcrawlers, dew worms, composting worms, worm composting, earthworms, eisenia, eudrilus, lumbricus[/tags]

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Interview With Jack Chambers – Part V

Jack Chambers celebrates with his family

Here is the final installation of the interview with Jack Chambers. I just want to take the opportunity to once again thank Jack for taking so much time out of his busy schedule to bring us all these great answers! I highly recommend that you visit his site (and bookmark it while you are at it) and keep tabs on what he is doing this year. Sounds like he has some exciting plans.


What sort of advice might you offer someone thinking about getting
into the worm farming / vermicomposting business?


JC – A couple of things come to mind. First, I would ‘encourage them
greatly’. Anyone that has an interest in worms should follow where
the trail leads; even if the trail comes to a fork in the road – take
it. I believe, more than ever, that worms and what they do are
important. From a small worm bin, to larger systems like we have;
worms do good things. I have seen with my own eyes the powerful
growth effects of worm castings. Gardens, vines, roses, houseplants
all grow better with worm castings, or vermicompost. In the past five
years I have also watched great things happen by using vermicompost
tea. Our vineyard has been fertigated and sprayed with vermicompost
tea. The results have been excellent.

I think the vermicompost world right now is sort of like the computer
industry was 30 years ago. I remember walking into a computer store
in 1978 and seeing an Apple computer and going ‘wow’. Think of what
an Apple II computer could do then, and compare that to what
computers do now.

I think we will see developments of a similar vein with the use of
vermicompost and vermicompost teas. One example would be in the
vineyard world. We could use vermicompost tea instead of sulpher on
vines to control powdery mildew. You can enhance the microbial world
on the grape leaves, instead of blowing a cloud of sulpher at the
problem. You will find vermicompost being added to soil blends, in
very small amounts, and seeing large increases in plant growth, plant
yields, and flower production. As an added benefit, you will see
improved soils, better water holding capacity, less erosion.

It is an idea who’s time has come. Now all we need is some capitol to
make it a larger reality. Just as the computer industry grew, the
vermicomposting world will grow.


Are you involved in any interesting exciting projects/studies these
days? (anything new and exciting on the business front in general?)


JC – Yes we are! The metal for our 4th reactor has just arrived, and we
will be setting that up this next month. We are adding an automated
feeder to help us increase our efficiency. I have just finished our
website, www.sonomavalleyworms.com. I will be adding a pod cast to
the website soon and will also be adding an internet store. I really
think this will be a break out year for us.

Over the past several years I have felt that the worm business really
needs to grow. I have a model that I think would translate into a
much bigger size. We know how to make world class vermicompost on a
small scale. What we have done with 3 reactors could be expanded to
30, or 300; it is just a matter of scale. I would like to be a part
of something like that. It has been a very interesting journey up to
now. I am excited and positive about what the future holds for me and
our little worm farm. I am even more excited for the future of the
worm industry as a whole.


Once again, be sure to check out Sonoma Valley Worm Farm to learn more about Jack’s vermicomposting operation.

[tags]jack chambers, worm composting, vermicomposting, worm castings, vermicompost, worm bed, flow-through reactor, sonoma valley, wine country, california, compost, vineyards, worm tea, compost tea[/tags]

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Digestive Table – A Worm Bin With Style!

Digestive Table
[Image courtesy of Amy Youngs]

Even though I added a link in the sidebar quite some time ago, I have yet to write about Amy Youngs’ intriguing “Digestive Table” (I have however written about it on the EcoSherpa blog previously). It’s almost certainly the coolest idea for a worm composting system I have ever seen! It’s a piece of art, yet is completely functional as a table and kitchen waste disposal system – not to mention education tool.

Amy Youngs is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at The Ohio State University. As a bit of an aside, The Ohio State University is also the home of renowned vermicomposting researchers, Drs Clive Edwards and Norman Arancon. Coincidence? I think not! (according to her website, they actually helped to inspire the project)
🙂

Amy Youngs is also a very active artist. Here is a blurb from her bio page:

Amy M. Youngs creates mixed-media, interactive sculptures and digital media works, that explore the complex relationship between technology and our changing concept of nature and self. She has exhibited her works nationally and internationally at venues such as Springfield Museum of Art (Springfield, OH), Pace Digital Gallery (New York, NY), the Biennale of Electronic Arts (Perth, Australia), John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, Wisconsin), Circulo de Bellas Artes (Madrid, Spain), the Visual Arts Museum (New York, NY) the Art Institute of Chicago’s Betty Rymer Gallery, Vedanta Gallery, (Chicago, IL), the San Francisco Public Library, Blasthaus, (San Francisco, CA) and Works (San Jose, CA). Her artwork has been reviewed in publications such as, The Chicago Sun Times, The Chicago Reader, San Francisco Bay Guardian, RealTime and Artweek. Youngs has published several essays, including one on genetic art in the journal Leonardo and another on art, technology and ecology in the international art publication Nouvel Objet in 2001.

The worm composting system incorporated into the table consists primarily of a funnel of landscape cloth hanging down from the underside of the tabletop. There is a small lid in the middle of the table that can be lifted so that scraps can be dropped down into the vermi-bag (a term I just made up, by the way). It is actually a very simple form of “continuous flow” system – eventually all material at the bottom will be worm compost, and most of the worms will be up near the top where all the yummy rotten food waste is. There is a worm composting system called the “Swag” that relies on a similar principle, and really there are limitless ways you could make your own funnel worm composter at home! Hmmm…this has me thinking…

If that isn’t cool enough, Amy’s system also includes a fully-integrated video system that allows you to actually watch as the worms and other creatures chow down on the food waste! Oh, and did I mention the fact that she has made available (for free) a construction diagram for this system?
8)

I wish I was a little more of a handy-person myself – I would love to build (and own) something like this!

Some might assume having an (essentially) open worm composting system like this would create a major stink. In fact, all the extra oxygen getting in along with the activities of the worms would likely make it even more odour-free than a normal worm bin. The only thing you’d really need to watch out for is drying out of the composting mass. I suspect that water would need to be added on a regular basis.

Be sure to check out the Digestive Table website, and watch the video if you have a fast connection.

[tags]digestive table, amy youngs, dr clive edwards, dr norman arancon, vermicomposting, worm composting, worm bin, swag, ohio state university, modern art, sculpture[/tags]

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Euro Cocoons Galore!

European Nightcrawler Cocoons

Last week I told you about the new home I set up for my European Nightcrawlers. Well it seems my worms have really settled in, and are now working over-time to fill all the available real estate.

That is to say they are breeding like…well…WORMS! Composting worms that is (soil dwellers tend not to be quite so prolific).

Levels of materials in the bin have settled down quite a bit since adding the worms, so I decided to add some more food waste! As I mentioned in my last post, my wife and I have been eating healthier this year and it’s left me with a lot more food waste for the worms (not to mention feeling better!!). Whoohoo!

Below you can see the colourful assortment of food scraps I added yesterday.

European Nightcrawler Bin

Anyway, I’m going to be very interested to see how long it takes before I start finding little euro-babies wiggling around. I found quite a few cocoons that seem to have darkened, and there seems to be baby worms inside – so perhaps it will be sooner than expected!

Speaking of worm babies, I really need to check in on my 4 worm experiment to see if there are any new additions there.

Man oh man – there certainly isn’t a shortage of things to write about on the blog these days!

[tags]european nightcrawlers, eisenia fetida, worm reproduction, worm cocoons, worm bin, worm bins, worm composting, vermicomposting, vermiculture[/tags]

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Wawa Worm Composting

For quite some time now I’ve been meaning to add some sort of worm composting Q & A section to the site. I receive a lot of questions about worm composting, in the form of comments on the blog and of course via email. Not surprisingly, there is a decent amount of overlap (obviously people can’t be expected to search the entire site for their answer!).

In an effort to get the info out to the masses, I’ve decided to add a new category to the blog, ‘Reader Questions’, where I will dedicate each post to a question I have received. This way a lot more people have the opportunity to see my responses.

If your question happens to be selected for a post, I will also send you an email to let you know.

Ok – let’s get rolling here! Our first question comes from Michelle, up in Northern Ontario – Wawa, to be exact! This small town is located between Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay, just north of one of my favourite camping destinations – Lake Superior Provincial Park! Anyway, here is what Michelle had to say…

Hello!
I am planning on starting up a couple of experimental worm bins in my home as an investment of my volunteer place of work. We’re thinking of trying out two different kinds of worm types (red wigglers and night crawlers) in two separate possibly rubbermaid bins (which we have yet to buy) in my basement. If all goes well we are going to try and get vermicomposting started on a larger scale in our small town community and get restaurants to give us their compost materials. We’ve got a community garden and will hopefully be using all the finished compost for it and other growing initiatives around town. Vermicomposting sounds like the perfect idea for us because it’s hard to compost around here because there are all sorts of wild critters that can get into it. I think we had a wooden compost construction in our yard once but it got knocked over by a bear.. so indoor composting is the way to go. Also our town is very big on fishing and holds a large ice-fishing derby every year. I’ve read that night crawlers are excellent bait worms so we may even be able to sell some to local fishermen if we ever get an abundance.

So, I was just wanting to know if we bought a pound of each type of worm would that be too many for a basic worm tub? My house has 9 people in it (it’s a house for the Katimavik youth volunteers program) and so I’m sure we will have enough food scraps..

We’re located in Wawa, Ontario, Canada. I tried to find on your site where you are in case you were closer and could help with recommendations of worm suppliers, but I couldn’t find anything. I’m very eager to start this up as soon as possible and get some new wormy friends as housemates!

I guess I don’t have all that many questions, I just wanted to hear your take on my situation, and tell you how commendable your dedication to worms and composting is! I greatly appreciate all the great information on your site, thanks.

Hi Michelle,
Thanks for stopping by! Your project sounds really interesting. I’m always pleased when I hear about young(er) people getting involved in worm composting initiatives.
You mentioned your desire to use “nightcrawlers” along with Red Worms. Are you referring to European Nightcrawlers or ‘Canadian Nightcrawlers’ (a.k.a ‘Dew Worms’ / Lumbricus terrestris)?

Dew Worms are a very popular bait, especially up here in Canada (where huge numbers of them are collected and sold), but unfortunately they can’t be raised in captivity (at least not easily), much less be used for worm composting. European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis) on the other hand, while also excellent bait worms, are good for vermicomposting as well (and breed very readily in captivity as I’ve recently been discovering for myself).

I know I talk about Jeff ‘The Friendly Worm Guy’ quite a bit here on the blog, but the fact of the matter is I can’t help doing so in response to your query. Jeff sells European Nightcrawlers and is located in Massey – which is still quite a few hours away from you, but at least it’s in Northern Ontario as well. I’m not sure if there are any composting worm dealers in Thunder Bay or Sault Ste Marie, but it might be worth looking into as well (don’t think Jeff is selling Red Worms as of yet).

As for using a 2 lbs or worms (1 lb of each type) to process the food wastes from 9 people, I guess it all depends on how healthy you eat! haha
In all seriousness, if you and your housemates eat a lot of fruits and vegetables you will likely have too much waste on your hands. Just to give you an illustration – my wife and I have recently started eating a lot more fruit every day (as part of our ’08 goal to eat better), and I’ve been blown away with the amount of worm food I now have. I’m actually finding it a little hard to keep up (and I have multiple indoor bins and a large outdoor bin, which I’ve insulated for winter composting)!

Assuming you and your 8 housemates eat even a moderate amount of fruits and veggies (along with drinking coffee/tea), there is a decent chance you will need bigger systems. I’d recommend starting up two large tubs (there are Rubbermaid tubs that come with hinged lids) and use at least 2 lbs of worms in each. Be sure to get each bin ready for the arrival of your worms by mixing up ample amounts of bedding (shredded cardboard is a good choice) and food waste, then moistening with water and letting it sit for a week or so.

I’ll definitely be interested to hear more about how your project comes together for you (I love the idea of approaching your community restaurants etc – sounds like the type of work that Mark Yelkin is involved in). Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks again for stopping by!

B.

[tags]worm composting, vermicomposting, red worms, red wigglers, european nightcrawlers, eisenia fetida, eisenia hortensis, dew worms, bait worms, canadian nightcrawler, lumbricus terrestris, wawa, sault ste marie, thunder bay, massey, northern ontario[/tags]

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